Monthly Archives: April 2011

I’ve been bitten…

by the homeschooling bug once again! Between mid-March to about mid-April, I was feeling REALLY ready to be done for the year (which I hear from other experienced homeschooling Moms is completely normal) and I didn’t even want to think about next year, but I’ve been spending some time planning and working on what we’re going to be doing and I’m super excited again! We’re going to be doing some of the same things next year, such as Five in a Row (of course! We love it!), A Reason for Handwriting, and Explode the Code, but we’re also going to be trying some new things too, such as Math-U-See. We’re also going to be adding a bit of History, since my little guy appears to enjoy it, just like his Daddy. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got some fun things planned for Caroline as well. Next week I’ll be attending the Arlington Homeschool Book Fair and I’m really excited about hearing some great speakers and looking at all the curriculum. I’m sure I’ll be even more motivated and excited for next year after that. I feel so very blessed to have homeschooling in my life. Like I’ve said before, it’s not at all what I would have originally chosen, but I truly feel that it’s a gift that God unexpectedly gave me and it has brought our family so much joy.

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Science for Storm in the Night

We did a lot of reading about storms today. In multiple books, they mentioned how before people knew what caused the thunder and lightning, people blamed it on angry gods. Elliot was really interested in why they would have thought that, so it led to a lot of good discussion about how people can make some silly assumptions when they don’t understand things, and how we know that our [one true] God has a purpose for all the things He does, even when they don’t seem good to us.

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Storm in the Night

We’ve made it to our final Five in a Row book of Kindergarten year, Storm in the Night, by Mary StoIz. I can hardly believe that this is already our sixteenth book! I remember planning out these books last summer and looking at these last few as if it would be forever until we’d read them and now here we are at the very end!

What a perfect book to be currently reading, as we’ve been experiencing plenty of real storms in the night! We’ll of course be learning all about weather, clouds, and storms, as well as discussing other topics such as fear and relationships. For language arts we’ll be learning about dialog, quotation marks, similes, and adding a few new vocabulary words to our repertoire.

Again, no specific setting in this book, so we looked up what are some of the stormiest places in the U.S. and decided to place our disk on Florida.

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Recipe of the Week

I don’t remember where I originally got this recipe, but I’ve been making it for over a year now and have made a few small changes here and there. They are a great way to satisfy a sweet craving with something that is still nutritious. If you’re not familiar with the many health benefits of coconut oil, take a look at this page.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cups

1 cup of organic peanut butter
2 tablespoons of raw honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
1/3 cup of raw chopped nuts of your choice (my kids prefer no nuts, so I omit)
3 tablespoons of flax seed meal
handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1-In a small bowl combine the peanut butter, 1/4 cup coconut oil, vanilla, honey, nuts and flax seed meal. Mix until well combined.

2-Drop by the heaping spoonful into mini-muffin tin. Should make about 20 cups. Place in freezer for about 5-10 minutes, so they just begin to firm up.

3- Take them out and place 1 or 2 chocolate chips in the center and then place back in the freezer to harden completely. (I used to put a little melted chocolate over the top, but then realized putting one chocolate chip on there was more than enough to get my kids excited about having it as their “dessert” and it’s so much easier.) Remove from the pan and keep in a quart-sized freezer bag. *They need to be stored in the freezer or else they will be too melty.
**I highly recommend getting the mini-muffin cup liners. I used to just put the mixture into the muffin tin but popping them out was such a pain. Plus, they just seem more like a treat when you pull them out of the freezer and peel off the “wrapper”.

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Language Arts for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Today we covered language arts for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. We looked at the copyright date of the book (1939) and discussed how this has become a classic book and that children have been enjoying it for over 70 years now! Elliot thought that was really cool. We read about Onomatopoeia and talked about personification again. When we discussed the elements of the story, we talked about how, unlike any of our other books so far, this one has two distinct conflicts.

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Science for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (sort of)

I had a great science lesson all planned out for yesterday and I have to say, it completely BOMBED. It was really the first time that has happened to me yet, so I guess after eight months of doing this, it’s not really too bad, but I was still disappointed. We were going to use steam from a teapot to try to get our pinwheel moving so that we could see how steam power works. I got Elliot all psyched up for how awesome it would be and he couldn’t wait. Then we tried it…….and nothing happened. I don’t think my teapot makes a good steady flow of steam, or something of that nature, because we couldn’t get it to effect the pinwheel in any way. I still tried to explain what was supposed to happen and at least he got to see what steam is, so maybe we got a tiny little tidbit of something out of it. Oh well, this kind of thing happens!

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Recipe of the Week

I just recently got a Blendtec blender, and with it I can grind grain so I’ve been making my own whole wheat flour. I’ve been learning about how much more nutritious it is for you when it is freshly ground so I’ve been trying to find a variety of recipes I can use it with. This one was really good! It makes four pretzels total, which doesn’t sound like that much but these babies are SO filling and none of us could eat more than half of one at one time.

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels

1/2 c. water
1 T. yeast
1 t. honey
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup honey
2 t. salt
4 cups whole wheat flour

kosher salt

In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup very warm water, 1 T. yeast and 1 t. honey. Stir this together and kind of mush the yeast around. Let this sit for a few minutes while you do the next step.

Melt the 1/2 stick of butter in a large saucepan.

Add 1/4 cup honey, 2 t. salt and 1 1/4 cups of milk, bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes.

Pour milk mixture into yeast mixture and stir. Stir in 4 cups of flour. Add a little more if you need it, until it’s not sticky. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes.
Plop it into a bowl, cover it and let it rise for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Pull it out of the bowl and knead it a few times to get the air out.

Pull a ball of dough, about the size of your fist, roll into a long snake, and twist into pretzel shape.
After you shape each pretzel, put them on a cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Melt 2-4 T butter in a saucepan. Right when you take the pretzels out of the oven, slather them with butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.

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Creative Writing Friday

We did something a little different on Friday for writing. Instead of the usual story, since we have been talking a little about inventions, I had Elliot write a description of the invention of his that he’s been talking about for at least the last month, long before we ever started this unit. He’s very serious about this invention and he believes he will build it with his Daddy when he is eight years old!

Here’s the picture to go along with it. In case you’re wondering, all those little pink squares are the buttons that change the hot air balloon to various things like a car, plane, boat, motor bike, or rolling castle.

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Social Studies for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

We did our first reading of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel today and did our social studies portion. We talked a bit about stewardship and how Mike Mulligan did such a good job of taking care of Mary Anne and how that kept her working well through all those years. Elliot was quick to point out though, that Mike did not do such a good job taking care of himself because he smoked pipes! Such a good point. I tried to explain that back then, that’s something that lots of people did and they may not have known yet that it was bad for their health.

We also learned about the history of steam shovels, thanks to wikipedia. Through that, we learned about the Panama Canal, since it was primarily dug with steam shovels. We found the Panama Canal on our big map and Elliot now understands why it was so necessary for there to be a shortcut from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean through Panama. I requested some more books about it from the library, so hopefully we’ll be able to learn even more about it!

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Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

We’re moving right along! We’ve made it to our second to last FIAR book for our Kindergarten year. This week we’re beginning Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. We’ll learn about steam shovels and how they were replaced with gas, electric and diesel powered shovels. Going along with that, we’ll learn about other machines and inventions that have impacted the world we live in. We’re also going to review personification and onomatopoeia.

This is another one of those books where there is no specified setting, so we chose to place our disk on California. When we read Katy and the Big Snow and learned about Virginia Lee Burton, we found out she grew up in California (even though she was born and died in Massachusetts) so we thought it would be a good place for Mike Mulligan. Besides, our east coast is WAY too crowded with disks.

Our library book collection is a little weak this time around, though I am still waiting on a few more to come in. I was a little disappointed to find out they didn’t have any books on steam shovels or steam power. Thank goodness for the internet!

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